I saw something today when I was out getting lunch that troubled me. After picking up my lunch and driving away, I found that it was still troubling me. While wondering if I should have said something, I was almost kicking myself for not saying anything. And then, of course, the doubt creeps in, the "mind your own business" mentality, causing me to question whether or not my advice would have been heeding.
As I was pulling into the lot, I saw a mom putting a kid into her suburban on the driver's side. As I parked next to her, I happened to look into the front passenger seat and saw a little boy sitting there. My quick glance told me that his head wasn't above the dash and as she walked away, calling over her shoulder for him (them?) to watch her stuff, the thought popped into my head of "that kid is not old enough to be in the front seat!" The thought that immediately followed was "should I tell her that?"
Then the doubt comes. What if she tells me to mind my own business? What if she tells me that she knows she's not supposed to, but the kid was fighting with her and it was just a quick trip? What if she thanks me and throws him in the back? I really have no way of knowing, because I grabbed my lunch and drove away. But the thought remains - when is it o.k. to say something? When can I go up to a complete stranger and tell her that there is something wrong with the way she is parenting, in that moment.
I saw an article online this morning, where Ryan Reynolds is being taken to task for not "wearing" his baby properly. As any other new parents out there can tell you, those baby carrier things are Satan's playground and nearly impossible to get in or out of comfortably, let alone getting the baby in or out. Despite Ryan's being a new dad, and despite it being an adorable picture of a dad holding his baby, the internet world took him to task for doing it wrong, some quite viciously. In today's day and age, it seems to be easy to correct someone, or tell them that they are doing it wrong, from the comfortable anonymity of their computer screen. But what about when it is in your face? Do you tell them? Do you say anything? Do you walk away just praying that the family gets home in one piece?
In case you are curious, California law requires that all kids under the age of 8 ride in the back seat, where they have to be secured in a car seat or booster seat. If they are at least 4 ft. 9 inches, they don't need a booster seat, but still have to be in the back seat. There are various other exceptions, under which a child under the age of 8 can ride in the front seat, but I won't bore you with the details. I will tell you that the kid I saw in that SUV was NOT 8 years old. He looked to be 5 or 6, if I had to guess.
The sometimes provocative ABC show "what would you do" puts people into situations like this, where you have to consider whether or not to say something. Would you have said anything to the mom? Am I more sensitive to this myself, with one little one now in a booster seat and one older, little one just clamoring to sit in the front seat? Does common sense come into play at all in this discussion? Do we really want our little ones sitting up front, where an air bag could smother them or a seat belt fail to protect them because they are too small?
So what do you think? I'm still wrestling with myself on this one.